Learning How to Be a Tuscan Chef

Let me tell you a secret: in my family, we are all big addicts. To the point of being incurable. There is one Italian dish we can never get enough of: the pici all’aglione. This is hand-made pasta topped with a garlicky tomato sauce. Continue Reading →

Where Do the Children Play – PART 2

In my last post, we began a roundup of interesting things to do in Italy when you are parents with children. We had a close look at three of the activities which I particularly recommend. Today, I’ll be suggesting four more.

Italy’s flora and fauna are inexhaustible sources of fun and wonder for kids. The prospect of a mere hike in the countryside probably won’t make any youngster jump for joy. But if you put forward an asparagus hunt through the Tuscan hills, chances are your offspring will happily volunteer for the journey – my daughter did, for instance! By the way, should you wish to experience this special asparagus quest with one of our licensed nature guides, we will gladly organize this for you.

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Where Do the Children Play – PART 1

Well I think it’s fine building jumbo planes,
Or taking a ride on a cosmic train,
Switch on summer from a slot machine…

Do these lyrics ring a bell? They are from a great Cat Stevens song released in 1970. Its title: “Where Do the Children Play”. If you haven’t heard this song before, make sure you do: it’s a beautiful piece of music and poetry, and it’s become a classic.

Yes, this is a question parents always ask themselves when vacationing with their children, and one often submitted to us by our Trust & Travel clients before they arrive at their Italian holiday residence: where shall we take the kids? Continue Reading →

Paolo, the Tuscan Fisherman

Do you remember Talamone, this little harbour town lying on the Southern coast of Tuscany? I told you about it in a previous blog post. Well, true, this was almost two years ago, so I won’t blame you if you haven’t kept in mind this piece of information…

Anyway, my daughter, husband and I have made it a family tradition to drive to Talamone whenever we are staying in the Maremma in the summer months. We usually go there in the late afternoon, primarily to jump into the Mediterranean sea from the high rocks of Women’s Bay – my daughter and I just can’t get enough of these aerobatic stunts, I confess – and to enjoy a refreshing aperitivo at the beachside bar, where they serve superlative mojitos.

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Tuscany’s Sweet Grape Bread

“Wine is sunlight held together by water”. A great Italian wrote that. Can you guess who? It’s the same man as the one who said: “And yet it moves!” I’ll give you the answer at the end of this post – don’t cheat, read the article first!

Vines… as far as the eye can see… From the end of August to early October, they are ripening everywhere in Italy. In the vicinity of our Trust & Travel holiday homes, most vineyards are grown for the purpose of producing wine. Because they all have seeds and a thick skin, their grapes are not exactly at their best when you eat them right off the vine.

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Grand Harmonies in a Grand Setting


Oscar Peterson once said: “I believe in using the entire piano as a single instrument capable of expressing every possible musical idea.”

I have always loved the piano; music written for or played at the piano. Katja, who organizes our “expert tours” in Tuscany – and who happens to dwell in the beautiful hills of the Maremma, – had been telling me for a while about the now celebrated Amiata Piano Festival held once a year in the small Italian town of Cinigiano, a festival which has been inviting from the international scene some of the finest musicians. “You really have to discover this festival, Katharina. I swear you’ll be sent into transports of delight!”

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Doing the Rounds of the Venetian Bacaris

“Well, Anke, I guess we could call it a day, what do you think?”

It was 9:30 pm. Anke and I were still in our Paris office, having worked industriously since the morning hours. She looked at me with her big round eyes:
“Yes, I agree, Katharina. Gee, I wish we had a Venetian bacari just across the street!”

I felt the same. We were both starving to death but too tired to consider a full meal in a restaurant. A small bite to eat and a fresh glass of wine, bacari-style, would have been just fine.

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Florentine Wax Anatomy and Taxidermy

“Hey, look at this one, Mummy! Is that a hippotamus?
– A hippopotamus, darling. Yes, it is.
– He looks angry!
– Well… yes. Or he may just be yawning…”

For my daughter and I, this was our very first visit to La Specola, a jewel of a museum in the heart of Florence. We were lucky enough that day to be accompanied by Gina, a good friend of mine who happened to be well-versed in zoology and natural history, the domains which La Specola is dedicated to. Gina presented us with some additional information on the “yawning hippotamus”:

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ZTL: No Driving In The Center Of Historical Towns In Italy

Last week I got a telephone call from my friend Jessica in New York, who had holidayed in one of our Trust & Travel villas in the spring of 2014:

“You won’t believe this, Katharina: I have just received a traffic violation ticket from my Italian car rental company. It says: “Unauthorized access to a ZTL area”. That was last year in Siena, a year ago! How can this be possible?
– I’m afraid it is, Jessica. A year’s delay is not unusual.
– And I’ve looked up “ZTL” on the web and guess what I’ve found: Zone Teatrali Libere, Free Theatre Zones! What is this? Did I inadvertently drive through a theatrical performance?”

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Tomato Sauce the Italian Way, Per Favore!

Today, for a change, we are going to put on our colourful aprons and perform some culinary magic. We’re going to do a conjuring trick improperly called, especially by non-Italians, pasta al pomodoro (tomato sauce pasta).

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